If you are considering a Baja California Sur road trip or simply want to get to know more about this amazing Mexican state, this guide should help you plan.
Whether you’ve been to Baja California Sur on trips before or not, you’ll likely know that this state is one of the most incredible places to discover new and what feels like totally untouched pieces of natural beauty.
The best thing about the entire Baja Peninsula is that it is perfect for road trips. The roads are mostly well taken care of compared to other roads around Mexico.
If you are planning to start at the California border with Tijuana, check out this guide for things to do on the northern part of the road trip.
This road trip guide will cover only Baja California Sur Mexico.
Weather in Baja California Sur
The climate of the state of Baja California Sur differs slightly depending on which coast you are on and what time of year it is.
The state is almost completely desert, but there are some quite mountainous areas as well. Unlike most places on the mainland of Mexico, Baja doesn’t experience a wet and dry season. There ARE hurricanes that come through between July and October, but if there isn’t a storm on the horizon, most of Baja is dry and hot.
The hottest months of the year are between May and September when temperatures can rise upwards of 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit during the day (32-38 Celcius).
The best time of year to visit Baja California Sur also happens to be the busiest time of year. From November, snowbirds of all ages head south and stay here through the winter as the temperatures from November to March tend to hover anywhere between 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 Celcius) to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26 Celcius) depending on where in the peninsula you are.
The coolest place in Baja California Sur tends to be Todos Santos and the Pacific coastline in that part of the state. The further south or east you go like to Los Cabos or La Paz, the hotter it gets.
See a breakdown of the yearly precipitation and temperatures here.
Getting to Baja California Sur
If you are going to be driving from top to tip, you already have your vehicle for your Baja California Sur road trip.
However, if you are planning to fly into Baja California Sur, you’ll want to pick up some wheels once you arrive.
The best airport for international arrivals and departures in the state is the Los Cabos Airport (Code: SJD). You can get here from most major airports in the US and Canada. It’s not my favorite airport in Mexico simply because it is absolute tourist central.
Be prepared to face every type of salesperson you’ve ever heard about as you try to exit the airport. Most are trying to entice you to come and look at their timeshares. Keep walking through the labyrinth until you are out in front of the airport.
There is only one car rental company in Cabo that I recommend to people and that is Cactus Car Rentals. It is a locally owned company that has been servicing the tourists of Baja for decades and their service is unbeatable. Watch my video about my experience with renting with Cactus here.
Driving in the Baja Peninsula
I have a complete guide to driving in Mexico here which is helpful for those that are driving in Mexico for the first time.
However, driving in Baja is easier than pretty much anywhere else in Mexico.
My only big tip is to drive during the day.
Baja California Sur has free-grazing laws. This means that farmers can take their cows anywhere they want to graze and this often means they are wandering along Highway One. During the day, these big boys (and girls) are easy to spot. But at night, when there are no lights other than your vehicle’s lights, they are impossible to spot until you are right in front of them.
Other than the cows, the roads are incredibly easy to follow (there’s really only one). You can download the Waze App (Google Play here and Apple App Store here) and navigate absolutely anywhere.
If you are sticking to the main tourist spots or frequently visited places, there is no need for a four-wheel-drive vehicle. The roads are paved and if they aren’t (like on the East Cape), they are incredibly flat and easy to drive in a small rental car (I did it many times!).
Baja California Sur is such a popular vacation spot in Mexico, the state are conscious of making travel around it very easy.
However, most people who love Baja, love to off-road to the hidden beaches and along the dusty sand roads.
If you already own a four-wheel-drive vehicle, then this is an amazing way to experience Baja and really get off the beaten track to see some incredible beaches and be the only ones there.
But if you are not an experienced off-road driver, then Baja should not be where you test the waters for the first time. The weather can change quickly, the roads and animals and heat are incredibly unhospitable and if you haven’t brought the right gear with you, you could find yourself in some serious trouble.
Baja California Sur Road Trip Stops
Everything on this list below can be reached with a normal car. There is no need to get a 4×4 if you are just planning to visit these on your road trip in Baja California Sur.
Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas is perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, but I think it is a vital part of any first-time road trip in Baja California Sur. It is Kilometer Zero (there is actually a sign where Highway One begins here).
It is flashy and tacky and full of tourists. But it’s also incredibly beautiful. There is no denying the beauty of getting on a little boat and taking a trip around the famous arch.
You only need one day if you don’t want to be surrounded by the busy bustle of tourism, but be sure not to miss a day out on the water and an evening of live music at Cabo Wabo.
If you do like a good party, by all means, stay longer.
I have a full list of the best things to do in Cabo San Lucas here, the best restaurants here, tips for safety in Cabo here, and my favorite boutique hotel here.
San Jose del Cabo
I lived for several months in this amazing little town and it will forever hold a special place in my heart.
Just down the road from Cabo San Lucas, I think this is a great place to base yourself to explore all of this part of the peninsula.
You can get a condo along the beach for the week and take day trips from Los Cabos to many of the places on this list without needing to find a new hotel every single night.
I’ve made dozens of videos about San Jose del Cabo which you can watch here. I’ve also written extensively about it in the following blog posts:
- Best Things to Do in San Jose del Cabo
- Best Restaurants in San Jose del Cabo
- San Jose del Cabo vs Cabo San Lucas: Which to Choose?
Todos Santos is well and truly on the map these days. It is the new Tulum in many ways.
Home to yoga studios, fresh juice stands, surf shops, and boutique glamping hotels, this is one of the most popular places to visit on a road trip around Baja California Sur Mexico.
I spent a month here earlier this year and got the chance to enjoy some seriously delicious seafood and plenty of fun hiking and biking.
Outdoor lovers will consider Todos Santos an absolute paradise. There are hiking trails around every corner. You can go surfing most days of the year (and it’s great for beginners at Cerritos Beach!). There are several beaches all within a short drive to the downtown area. There’s a lot to love about this place (hence why it has become so very popular).
Watch all of my videos about Todos Santos here including my absolute favorite home I’ve ever had in Mexico here.
Read my full guide to Todos Santos here which includes restaurant recommendations, the best hotels, and the best things to do when you stop here on our Baja California Sur road trip.
A kite surfers paradise, this place isn’t to be missed if you want to kite or windsurf during your trip to Baja. It’s also just a nice place to stop to break up the trip from San Jose del Cabo to La Paz if you’re driving that way.
La Ventana fills with surfers from around the world between November and March, which is classed as the “windy” season here. All you need to do is drive up to the beach (you can drive on the beach here!) and sit back and watch the surfers fly across the water.
If you are interested in learning, this is a wonderful place to learn. There are tons of different kite schools around the town with the most recommended being Nomad Kitesurf School and my personal favorite, Saladita Kite School.
Another must-do while in La Ventana is to soak in the hot springs at Playa Agua Caliente. This is simply a public beach with plenty of space to relax and swim. The road to the beach is unpaved and has a few big rocks, so just be careful driving in a low-clearance vehicle. We did it in a small rental car without a problem, but it’s worth knowing about.
Bring some snacks or lunch and a blanket to relax for the day. There are some palapas (permanent umbrellas in the sand) where you can relax in the shade. The water is incredibly calm and great for swimming. Then at the very far end of the beach, you’ll see the hot spring pools that have been dug into the sand.
This is perhaps my favorite place in all of Baja California Sur. If you don’t plan to do a full road trip around the entire state, you should at least make sure to add this to your list.
It is possible to do it as a day trip from San Jose del Cabo, but you’ll need to get up very early. It’s better to spend the night here. That means you’ll be able to enjoy a few beers at Tacos and Beer and then get up nice and early for a morning boat trip. The mornings are the best time to go out on the water here.
Cabo Pulmo is a nationally protected marine park and one of the most magical places to get underwater in all of Mexico. It has one of the largest marine biodiversities in the entire world and whether you want to dive or simply snorkel, you will see so many unique animals.
I personally recommend using East Cape Adventures. You can contact them via Whatsapp with this number: +52 624 117 4257. Just message them at least 24 hours in advance and get yourself booked onto a boat trip. They are professional, speak excellent English, and have great equipment.
A boat company that I haven’t personally used, but has been recommended to me by many trusted friends in Los Cabos is Cabo Pulmo Watersports. They are also a great locally owned company with fantastic guides and top-quality equipment.
If you plan to self-drive to Cabo Pulmo, it’s very easy to get to. Just be sure that you take the route that starts in La Ribera. If you are coming from Los Cabos, it may be tempting to take the East Cape road from the south, but it is not in great condition.
The East Cape Road from La Ribera southward is paved almost all the way to Cabo Pulmo so is much quicker and easier to drive.
Watch my video about the East Cape Road here and my video about Cabo Pulmo here.
An old mining town, El Triunfo has made the map not only for its well-preserved history but for an excellent bakery.
If you’ve been to Mexico many times before, you’ll likely know how hard it can be to find great bread (except maybe for Mexico City).
The team at Cafe El Triunfo have installed a proper wood-fired oven and are fermenting their own sourdough starters to make what you may find to be the best bread and pizza dough you’ve had this side of the border.
They use the bread to make exceptional (and expensive) sandwiches and pizzas. You can also simply buy a loaf of bread to take along with you on your road trip and stop at a supermarket for cheaper ingredients to fill your sandwiches with.
However, besides great bread, it’s well worth stopping here to learn more about what was at one time, the most populated town in all of Baja California Sur.
The first mine was opened in El Triunfo in the late 18th century. Gold and silver were slowly dug here until the mine was taken over by the British El Progreso Mining Company in 1878.
They brought over miners from the UK and hired locally to build up what, at one point, was one of the most lucrative mines in the country. This boom in mining meant that El Triunfo became the center of all of the action.
Famous singers and performers came from around the world to entertain the big-wigs of the North American mining world. At one point, it was the biggest city in Baja California Sur, with a population of over 10,000 people (it now has a population of 327).
It was also the first place in Baja California Sur to get electricity and to get a telephone line.
Now you can actually go into the mine if you want or you can simply wander around the old chimneys, one of which is called La Romana. The La Romana smokestack is 154 feet tall (47 meters) and was built in 1890, but was restored in 2018 to fix the many cracks and earthquake damage that it suffered during its 128 years.
For those that really want to learn more about the mining history, a stop into the small but information-packed Museo Ruta de Plata is worth a visit.
Los Barriles is one of my favorite sleepy beach towns in all of Mexico. I think it’s because it’s secretly a foodie haven. This tiny town has over 80 restaurants and food stalls.
There are dozens of places to grab fish tacos, freshly shucked chocolate clams, juicy carne asada atop a fluffy potato, and even good pizza and burgers when the mood strikes.
These are a few of my absolute favorite spots. Click the link to see their location on Google Maps.
- Taqueria Lily’s – amazing carne asada and a nice atmosphere.
- Taqueria El Viejo – the best fish tacos in town, I particularly loved the clam tacos!
- Loncheria Mar y Tierra – fantastic fish dishes, a great local spot with excellent prices.
It’s also an incredibly popular place for kites and windsurfers thanks to the wide-open beach.
It sits on the Gulf of California, which means that the water is calm and turquoise. When the windy season ends in March, it becomes one of the best beaches to relax on. The water is calm for swimming and the weather is utter perfection 80% of the year (longer if you love the intense heat).
Watch my video about Los Barriles here.
La Paz is the capital of Baja California Sur and is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico. In fact, Playa Balandra is often rated as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world!
A trip to La Paz is essential on a road trip around Baja California Sur.
I’ve been to this wonderful city many times over the years and find something new to love about it with every return trip. Check out all of my articles and videos about La Paz.
- Awesome Things to do in La Paz
- The 15 Best Restaurants in La Paz (don’t miss fish tacos at McFisher!!)
- Why I Love La Paz (video)
- What to Do in La Paz (video)
- La Paz Apartment Tour (video)
A drive from La Paz to Loreto takes just over four hours and allows you to drive on part of one of the longest straight roads in the world!
Driving long straight roads is quite boring and with the heat rising off these roads in the middle of the day, it can be dangerous as you begin to lose your focus. It’s best to do this drive in the morning when the sun isn’t at its peak and it’s not quite as hot.
Make a stop in Ciudad Constitución, which is about halfway between the two cities, and grab lunch at one of the many restaurants along the main street.
Loreto is well worth a visit if you have time to drive here. You can also opt to fly directly into the Loreto airport from a few hubs in the USA and Canada.
This is one of the best places to head for people who love fishing or for those that want some incredible hiking adventures. I’ve written a few articles about Loreto as well as made a video which you can check out to learn more about this lovely beach town.
- 10 Awesome Restaurants in Loreto
- Top 6 Things to Do in Loreto Mexico
- What to Do in Loreto (video)
- Amazing Island Tour off of Loreto (video)
- Beautiful Boutique Hotel in Loreto (video)
If you didn’t know these bays were here, you’d likely just keep driving on the road between Loreto and Mulege.
But I’m here to let you know that these incredible beaches should not be skipped. There are several different bays within this larger bay and all of them offer something a little bit different.
A few of my favorites that you don’t want to miss. Click the name of the beach to see its location on Google.
- Playa el Requeson – One of the most popular beaches, this strip of sand fills up fast with campervans and people here for a day of kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding.
- Playa el Coyote – My personal favorite, this little bay is perfect for swimming. You can camp on the beach for $10 USD and they have little covered huts to put your tent or just to shelter from the sun.
- Playa el Burro – A great place to rent an Airbnb or park your boat, this calm bay has a bar and restaurant and a beautiful beach to relax on.
- Posada Concepcion – the only real “town” to speak of along this strip of road. This is where you’ll find hotels and restaurants.
Most of the beaches have a small entry fee depending on how long you plan to stay. There are absolutely no ATMs here, so be sure you have some cash before leaving Mulege or Loreto (depending on which direction you’re traveling from).
This tiny little town absolutely stole my heart. Maybe it was because it was the end of my Baja California road trip, so I was feeling nostalgic. Maybe it was because I needed somewhere quiet after doing so much traveling. It’s possible that I was just ready for somewhere like Mulege.
Whatever the reason, I ended up extending my stay in this sleepy little riverside town a few more days because I just loved how peaceful and beautiful it was.
And I’m not the only one. Everyone I met on my trip to Mulege, whether Mexican, Canadian, or American, had come from elsewhere and just kept on extending their stay in this magical little town.
Most people stop in Mulege as a base to explore the cave paintings that are in the region. Some of these cave paintings are thousands of years old and are a huge part of the history of this region of Mexico.
I highly recommend taking a tour with Salvador. He’s one of the best guides I’ve ever had and is famous around these parts of Mexico for his knowledge. One of the few true locals of Mulege, he knows this town and the surrounding region better than anyone. You can book a tour with Salvador by sending him a message on WhatsApp: +52 615 161 4985. You can also email him:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watch my video about Mulege here. If you want the best tips for places to stay, things to do, great tour guides, restaurants, and bars (and locally made craft beer!), be sure to read my complete guide to Mulege here.
Grab a Copy of My Baja California Sur Guidebook
After spending many months living in and traveling around Baja California Sur, I put together what I feel is one of the most comprehensive guides available. It’s packed with all of the things that make Baja California Sur special: amazing beaches, small towns to stop into along the way, great food spots, locally owned hotels and tour companies, and the best roads to take.
I continuously update this guide and you will always be able to download the latest updates if you purchase the digital guide here.
If you prefer paperback, you can get a physical copy of the book on Amazon here.
Check out the rest of my Mexico travel guidebooks here.